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UPDATED: 09:13, July 05, 2006
Former Dutch PM expects general election in November
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Former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers, who was appointed by Queen Beatrix to oversee the formation of a new government, said on Tuesday that he expects a general election to be held on November 22.

Lubbers was quoted by Radio Netherlands as saying that he expected to finish preparations for Jan Peter Balkenende's third cabinet by the end of this week, earlier than expected.

The two parties which will form the new minority government, the Christian Democrats and the conservative VVD, do not want limits placed on their administration's remit.

The opposition parties, however, have told Lubbers they reject the idea of the interim government introducing contentious legislation ahead of elections.

After three years in power, the center-right coalition collapsed last Thursday after junior partner D66 quit in protest of Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk's handling of the citizenship of a Somali-born Dutch politician.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a fierce critic of conservative Islam, resigned as a VVD member of parliament in mid-May when Verdonk threatened to deprive her of her Dutch passport for lying about her name, age and refugee status when she applied for Dutch asylum and citizenship in the 1990's.

Under immense pressure from the parliament, Verdonk eventually allowed Hirsi Ali to keep her Dutch citizenship.

She did so after Hirsi Ali signed a statement, drafted by Verdonk's staff, in which she apologized for misleading the government and absolved Verdonk of any responsibility.

After a marathon debate in parliament last Wednesday, D66 demanded the resignation of Verdonk, who was backed by both her own VVD and Balkenende's CDA.

When the demand was not met, three cabinet members of D66 resigned, which resulted in the announcement by Balkenende of resignation of all the other cabinet members.

Source: Xinhua

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